Pubdate: Mon, 09 Sep 2002
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.


With the federal government still trying to get its act together on the 
medical use of marijuana, a Senate committee last week recommended 
legalizing pot for anyone over 16.

This would go well beyond even the current political debate over whether to 
decriminalize marijuana, resulting in some of the most liberal laws on pot 
use in the world.

We disagree, although the report, which seemed primarily intended to 
provoke debate, did make some valid points. After all, if we imprisoned 
every Canadian who ever experimented with a little pot, we'd be 
constructing jails on every street corner in the country and tossing many 
MPs and Senators inside as well.

The report says our laws clog up the courts and turn hundreds of thousands 
of otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

Efforts to crack down on simple possession occupy valuable police 
resources, with minimal effect.

Worst of all - for politicians - prohibition is an open invitation for 
criminals to rake in billions in profits, while denying governments the 
chance to tax the hell out of it. So, legalize it? Well, hang on.

It's not enough to propose simplistic solutions to complex problems. 
Legalizing marijuana would create a whole new set of problems that must be 
addressed as part of any serious debate on reforming marijuana laws. First, 
it would be widely interpreted, especially by the young, as tacit 
acceptance of the practice, and that smoking pot is safe.

David Griffin of the Canadian Police Association calls the report "a 
back-to-school gift for drug dealers." The Canadian Medical Association 
warns total legalization would send a misleading message that there are no 
health dangers in smoking pot. Bizarrely, the report advocates legalization 
for those over 16, well under the legal drinking age. Who's kidding whom?

It's illegal to sell cigarettes or booze to minors, yet kids under age 
today have little difficulty obtaining either. How do we address the 
unhappy consequence that legalizing pot use at the age of 16 would drive 
the age of the actual users down even further? We suggest Ottawa begin by 
proving it can provide Canadians with a sensible plan for the medical use 
of marijuana, before it goes off half-cocked legalizing the stuff.
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